Keywords: Electoral reform, electoral systems, parties and coalitions, strategic coordination of parties, learning process, party system.
This essay examines the effects of the electoral reforms in Italy on the behaviour of political parties, focusing on their conflicting and cooperative interaction. It identifies the incentives provided by the two different electoral systems introduced in 1993 and in 2005. It emphasizes the crucial role played by the strategic coordination between parties - whose main product has been the making of pre-election coalitions - in the causal path going from the electoral rules to the election results and the party system. It discusses the main features of new Italian party system and of its evolution up to the 2006 general election, particularly the establishment of a bipolar setting and the high degree of party fragmentation.